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What Is a Professional Genealogist and How to Become One

What Does a Professional Genealogist Do?

A professional genealogist works with clients to trace their family roots through public records and historical documents. As a professional genealogist, you consult with clients to find out what they already know about their ancestry and what they hope to learn from genealogical research. You use data from DNA testing in conjunction with contextual information that your clients provide as a starting point for your research. Exploring immigration records, property and tax records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates, you put together a family tree that your clients can share with their descendants.

How to Become a Professional Genealogist

As a professional genealogist, you study family ancestry to trace kinship, lineage, and history. Your job duties include gathering information using genetic tests, oral accounts, and other research, such as births or marriages. You may also teach, write articles based on your findings, and give lectures. Genealogists often find work as a librarian, tour guide, archivist, or private business owner. To become a professional genealogist, you typically need postsecondary education in a related field, such as genealogy courses and seminars at a college or national genealogical society. You also need hands-on experience, and many aspiring genealogists begin gaining experience in the career field by documenting and researching their personal family history through diaries, personal records, and photographs. You may also need to join professional genealogical societies and obtain certification to gain access to resources and networking opportunities. Additional qualifications include excellent interpersonal, research, and communication skills.